Celebrating a century

Three churches celebrate their 100th anniversaries

KINGFIELD — Built on what used to be the outskirts of Minneapolis to meet the needs of a growing, religiously diverse population, three neighborhood churches of different denominations will this year share a common achievement: a century of service.  

Each built in 1909 when a new rail line brought a boom of new residents to Southwest, Judson Memorial Baptist Church, Church of the Incarnation and Faith Free Lutheran Church are celebrating their centennials this month with plans that have been thousands of dollars and years in the making.

Here is a look at what the churches are doing to recognize their 100-year birthdays.  


On Oct. 18, Archbishop Nienstedt will preside over a centennial mass that begins at 10:30 a.m. An attendance of 900 people is expected, said Tad Bornhoft, a parishioner and historian at the church.

The centennial is significant because the community has transitioned from being a secluded, edge-of-town congregation to integrating the fast-growing Spanish speaking community.

When the Como-Harriet streetcar route expanded in the early 1900s, several churches were built on the outskirts of town. Incarnation, established in 1909, was known then as the “Cathedral of the Cornfields.”

Through the 1970s, the parish population boomed, expanding the church to four buildings. Membership has dropped in recent decades and now consists of less than 500 families, said Margaret Hedlund, who has been a parishioner for 15 years.

While the Incarnation church population declined, the Sagrado Corazon de Jesus Catholic community expanded. Sagrado Corazon, in need of a larger establishment, asked Incarnation if it could use Incarnation’s building.

The Latino parish held its first Spanish-language Mass in November 2002, Bornhoft said. It will celebrate with Incarnation in October.  

On Oct. 3, Incarnation held part of the celebration it had been planning for eight months. An Oktoberfest festival with live music, carnival rides and food took place on the street at 30th and Pleasant.  

“The celebration is not to make money,” Hedlund said. “We really just want to celebrate with the community.”

Faith Free Lutheran

“[Churches celebrating] 100 years is a rare thing in a fast changing world, especially in an urban setting,” Pastor Greg Lenz said.

Faith Free Lutheran, known originally as Pillsbury Avenue Lutheran Church and then as Rosedale Lutheran Church, will host a special service on Oct. 25 beginning at 10:30 a.m. to celebrate its centennial. Pastor Robert Lee, former president of the Association of Free Lutheran Churches, will preach at the service. He will be joined with Pastor Lester Dahlen.

Lenz encouraged friends and former members of the church to share stories after the service over a lunch. Volunteers and donations will fund the meal, which is at noon and open to anyone interested in coming.

“It’s a chance to look back on the history of the church and the people who came before us and appreciate the work they have done,” Lenz said.

Faith Free Lutheran has about 100 members, he said. Membership declined when families began moving to the suburbs, but the decline has slowed in recent years.

Judson Memorial Baptist

Judson Memorial Baptist Church has been planning its centennial celebration for two years, said Tom Balcom, neighborhood historian and 62-year member of the church.

At 10 a.m. on Nov. 1, Douglas Weatherhead will direct the premiere of his choir concert piece “Requiem” at the church.

On Nov. 14 there will be a banquet at 6 p.m. held off-site at St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church located at 35th Street and Irving Avenue. The event is by invitation only and costs $20 for adults. Children 10 and under are free.

Nov. 15, former Pastor Dale Edmondson will preside over a special service at 10 a.m. The service is open to anyone.

Kevin Brown, director of Faith Formation at Judson Memorial, anticipates 200 people attending the service, surpassing the average attendance of 125–150 people.

“In the early 1920s and 1930s, Judson made a radical decision to allow membership to folks of other denominations and open communion to all people,” Brown said. “At the time, it was progressive.”

Brown said that membership at the church has been increasing in recent years.

“Many GLBT people with kids join because this is a place where they can live their faith and be open minded and progressive with integrity,” Brown said.

The celebration is funded through a $5,000 family bequest left to the church, a $3,000 budget allotted from the church’s general fund and the balance will be funded through banquet proceeds.